Wing Madosh Tambwe scored four tries as the Lions edged the Pumas in an exciting round one Currie Cup match played at Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon.
In a thrilling encounter which saw 10 tries being scored, the Lions over-turned a 16-point second half deficit to win by the narrowest of margins. There was little to choose between the teams who both played an attacking brand of rugby.
The Pumas struck first, capitalising on a Lions error on halfway when they had done all the playing in the opening minutes. A loose pass by the Lions went to ground and flank Carel du Preez hacked it towards the tryline, chased after it, picked it up and dived over for a try against the run of play.
The Lions though hit back before 10 minutes were up on the clock when wing Tambwe finished off a counter-attack in which centres Wayne van der Bank and Wandisile Simelane combined well to break open the Pumas defence. It wasn’t long though before the Pumas were back in charge after lock Le Roux Roets went over.
On the half hour mark Tambwe got his second for the Lions, doing well to stick out an arm and score to help his side draw level with the visitors. A late first half penalty by Cobus Marais though ensured the Pumas led at the break.
The Lions lost two important men to injury in the first half, flank Vincent Tshituka and centre Van der Bank, who’ll join an already long injury list, while lock Rhyno Herbst spent 10 minutes in the sin-bin for a shoulder charge on a Pumas player.
But it mattered little for the Lions who scored their third try soon after the second half got under way; fullback Tyron Green going over after a good break-out from deep by the impressive No 8 James Venter.
The Pumas then took charge of the match and raced into a 37-21 lead at the halfway point of the second half following two penalties by Marais and tries by wing Etienne Taljaard and replacement forward Morgan Naude, who finished off an excellent counter-attack from deep inside the Pumas half.
The Lions though, desperate to not suffer the same fate that befell the Sharks on Friday when they lost to “minnows” Griquas in Durban, fought back with intent and it was that man Tambwe who got his team back on track. The speedy winger went over in the right-hand corner in the 65th and 89th minutes for a four-try haul.
And the amazing comeback was completed late on when flyhalf Shaun Reynolds went over and converted his try to ensure the Lions won by a single point.
Lions (14) 38
Tries: Tanbwe (4), Green, Reynolds; Conversions: Reynolds (4)
Pumas (17) 37
Tries: Du Preez, Le Roux, Taljaard, Naude; Conversions: Marais (4); Penalties: Marais (3)